See more of the story

Richfield's new sustainability commission is set to begin meeting in February following a recent unanimous vote by the City Council to set up the board.

The commission, whose nine members will include two students, will provide recommendations to the council about the implementation and promotion of measures and policies concerning environmental issues and initiatives.

While several existing city commissions have addressed topics of sustainability, Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez said that the establishment of a more focused commission was "well overdue."

"This is one of the most important issues in our world, and cities and communities locally need to be leading," she said at the council meeting in early December.

She thanked a group of residents who had pushed for a commission dedicated to sustainability in hopes of going beyond efforts already made, such as using electric vehicles for the city.

Richfield formed an organics task force in early 2018 and implemented organics recycling, but the group's work was narrow in scope and its goals have mostly been met.

City officials hope the commission will provide an ongoing platform for residents to stay involved in efforts to make the city more sustainable.

Many residents already have championed environmentally friendly initiatives in the city, and the new commission will allow for more collaboration among city staffers, residents and the City Council, said Council Member Ben Whalen.

"Almost all of the city's sustainability goals and actions directly impact residents, so it's helpful to be working with those who can share their thoughts and ideas regarding environmental projects," Gonzalez said in an announcement on the city's website.

Much of the commission's early work will focus on education, said Rachel Lindholm, the city's sustainability specialist.

"Sharing resources with residents, as well as explaining the reasons why the city is undertaking a specific sustainability effort, is key to the commission's success," she said in a statement. "We want residents to be involved in the issues that matter to them and that affect them."

The City Council will review applications and conduct interviews to choose the commissioners.

Mara Klecker • 612-673-4440